Though worship was a private matter and not a public matter, we nevertheless are commanded to assemble ourselves together as God's people. Hebrews 10:25, "Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching."It has been so long since I have heard or read this statement by Jack Hyles that I could hardly believe it when I saw it again. During the early 90's Hyles gave some Wednesday evening talks on the so called "Enemies of Soulwinning". Later these "gems" were compiled into a book entitled "The Enemies of Soulwinning" and it is chock full of Biblical eisegesis of the worst kind. I can still remember that Hyles and the teachers at HAC taught us preacher boys that we should NEVER refer to any of our church services as "worship services"! This was a cardinal rule the breaking of which was tantamount to having the forbidden phrase "Accept Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior" in your plan of salvation! I suppose that is another post for another day--for now let's just look at this matter of worship.
According to the New Testament, the public meetings were for strength for God's people, for fellowship, for the taking of the Lord's Supper, for praying, for studying the Bible, for praise, etc. The soul winning was to be done publicly and from house to house. The worshipping was to be done alone, and the church assembled for the aforementioned reasons.
When formal worship is substituted for the real purpose of the assembly, Christians do not get strengthened, encouraged, exhorted or motivated to do the main task of the church, and that is to carry out the Great Commission, which is soul winning (emphasis mine). To that end, formal worship becomes an enemy of soul winning!
1. Hyles taught that the public assembly was only for strength for God's people, for fellowship, for taking the LORD's Supper, for praying, for studying the Word, for praise, etc...
2. Hyles taught that worshipping was only to be done alone--never in the assembly.
3. Hyles taught that "formal worship" will not strengthen, encourage, exhort, or motivate Christians to do the main task of the church which is the Great Commission or "Soulwinning". Therefore worship in church is an "enemy of soulwinning".
Where shall we begin? I remember vividly the attitude of arrogance that accompanied this hobby horse that Hyles loved to ride. The mental gymnastics and circular reasoning that he practiced were brilliant! Shame on me for not being a Berean at that point in my life--it would have saved me a lot of heartache, but we serve a gracious and perfect God who meant all of it for my good.
First of all, Hyles' teaching that church was for fellowship, for taking the LORD's Supper, for praying, for studying the Word, for praise, etc... is not wrong in and of itself. My issue here is that his church did not study the Word and he did not encourage Bible study--he may have made mention of reading your Bibles, but never encouraged true Bible study. I am amazed how he could harp on such things and not see how unbalanced his ministry really was. When I consider the type of preaching that Hyles loved to perform it is no wonder that he could not understand corporate worship. I am reminded of what John Stott said in " Between Two Worlds":
"Word and worship belong indissolubly to each other. All worship is an intelligent and loving response to the revelation of God, because it is the adoration of His name. Therefore acceptable worship is impossible without preaching. For preaching is making known the Name of the LORD, and worship is praising the Name of the LORD made known...when the Word of God is expounded in its fullness, and the congregation begins to glimpse the glory of the living God, they bow down in solemn awe and joyful wonder before His throne."(emphasis mine)When you look at the three weekly pep rallies that Hyles held at FBCH is it any wonder that he had such a low view of corporate worship? There was only room for one object of worship on the platform at FBCH--I believe this is the root of the problem he had with worship as part of the church assembly. John Stott hits the nail on the head--Biblical exegesis by the regular exposition of scripture in its context is the foundation for meaningful and heart-felt worship. We ought to stand in awe and wonder of a holy God high and lifted up after a sermon is preached--when the Word is explained and preached in a systematic way God's Word has free course and will change lives and produce fruit in a powerful way! Hyles believed that power in preaching was found in the style of delivery and the response at the altar during the invitation--this is purely pragmatic and nothing short of rank decisionism.
Secondly, Hyles' teaching on worship being something only done in private is pure foolishness! Certainly we cannot honor God in our corporate worship unless our private worship is sincere and regular. To state that our gathering together is simply for fellowship, the LORD's Supper, prayer and Bible study, but not for worship is misguided at best. Worship is our ultimate priority and everything we do ought to be to that end. The Apostle Paul gives this command in 1 Corinthians 10:31, "Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God."
Last of all, Hyles taught that "formal worship" will not strengthen, encourage, exhort, or motivate Christians to do the main task of the church which is the Great Commission, or "Soulwinning". This statement is so rife with error that it baffles me how anyone took him seriously. Let me begin by stating that Hyles' complete philosophy of ministry is summarized in this statement-- he had a job to motivate the good folks of FBCH so that they would go out and "win" some more converts for his kingdom. Conversely, how better to strengthen, encourage, exhort, and motivate holy living than the heart-felt worship of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ? Hyles believed it was a preacher's job to motivate--the Bible teaches that the Word of God is the motivator not to simply "go soulwinning" but to glorify God.
More to follow...
Phineas Taylor Barnum